Book Review: Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

Life Right Now


Here I am, just past three weeks into my 100-day project of blogging every day. I’ve missed a few days, but not many. As I’ve continued to write my posts, I have begun asking myself: Why am I doing this? Not in an existential “why” sense. But, what do I hope to gain? What can I learn from this process?

One thing I wanted to do was re-establish a writing habit. In a sense I have done that, as I’ve blogged nearly every day. But it hasn’t been at the same time or with any predictability. I’ve written some of my blog posts while watching TV at night with Kendell, which really is just fulfilling my self-imposed requirement rather than dedicating myself more fully to writing. I started out doing this project with the hopes that I would find my writing personality, my writing identity, again. I’m not sure I’ve done that. I think I need to find ways to explore other topics and look at things in different lights. Not because I’m trying to capture more readers or followers, but because of that search for my writerly self.

But this post is not going to be one of those kinds of posts.

Today while I was gardening, I was listening to a podcast about scrapbooking. (The Scrap Gals podcast.) In this episode they were talking about telling our stories (as opposed to feeling like everything you make has to be about someone else, an idea I am thoroughly a fan of), and one of the ways to do that was to make a layout about who you are right now. I used to do this with some regularity, mainly about my kids but sometimes about myself. Often enough that has an abbreviation in my scrapbooking spreadsheet (YES! I do have a spreadsheet about scrapbooking; two, in fact): LRN (for Life Right Now). Sometimes I did this on my blog, sometimes in my journal, sometimes on scrapbook layouts. I really do love looking back on those past ways of being and thinking, and while yes: it isn’t really fantastic writing, I do think there is also merit in it, simply because my own story matters, too. So here it is, the long-awaited and very popular post about my life right now.

My biggest complaint about my body right is my unreliable knees. (Ten years ago, when I was in my 30s, I’m not sure I had any complaints about my body, except the usual my-boobs-are-small-my-thighs-are-big vexes.) They aren’t really painful, per se, except for occasional stabby pains and right at the start of a run or a hike. More, it’s just that they don’t work like they’re supposed to. They just don’t bend normally, and the right one (the one that suffered from a crackled femoral condyle) won’t straighten all the way. But still: I am running and hiking. I am trying to find exercises to strengthen my quads that don’t require lunges or squats (harder to find than you might imagine). And I’m just going to keep on keeping on for as long as I can.

I am pondering going back to physical therapy though. Maybe once a week e-stim and stem would be good for me.

While my identity is not only tied to my kids, no life-right-now list would be complete without them. Haley is living in Colorado with her boyfriend, Austin. She is working at a pharmacy at a hospital. She recently figured out that she applied to med schools too late last year and so will have to reapply this spring. So, one more year of working, saving money, and (I hope) resting and building up her energy for med school. Jake is living at home and sorting out his life. So much of his story right now is just that, his story, not mine to tell. But he is doing so much better than he was a year ago. I have every faith in him that he will figure it out. Nathan is at his AIT in Arizona. It is so nice to be able to communicate with him so much faster now; when he was at Basic we could only send letters. Now, in the evenings he can call or text. He is struggling with shin splints and has discovered the magical inefficiencies of military health care. Kaleb is enjoying his soccer season finally. He wasn’t thrilled when it started again, as he has a new love: basketball. He loves basketball. He even watches basketball games on TV. His track season ended yesterday with the regional meet, called Alpine Days. He got 4th in the state on high jump, matching his PR of 5’2”.

Stuff I really like right now: half square triangles, dark chocolate toffees from Trader Joe’s, hazelnut-flavored beverages, my new big pink mug, being outside doing almost anything but especially working in my garden, the last Game of Thrones season, talking about the last Game of Thrones season with Jake.

Things I am grappling with: My faith. (Right now I don’t have any callings and am not going to church very often. Am I happier this way? I’m not sure yet.) Whether or not we should move. (I know exactly what I want my new, imaginary house to look like. In my head it is designed to accommodate the next 25 years of my life, which I’m hoping will eventually include sons and daughters-in-law, grandchildren, family parties, as well as Kendell’s OCD issues. But…I love this house, too. I love my memories here. I love my trees and my yard and my view of Timp. But I want to live somewhere I feel like I fit in. But that’s a lot of effort and expense considering the very large possibility that maybe I don’t fit in anywhere. But that vision in my head of my beautiful new house!) How to fulfill my goals. What will happen if I really do need knee surgery. Selling my mom’s house. Coming to terms with the reality of my relationship with one of my sisters. (Despite what alcoholics and addicts think, their actions, words, and decisions don’t only influence them.) How to help my adult kids in their adult lives. Whether or not I should let Kaleb play ninth grade basketball. (He is really good at basketball but his pediatric cardiologist doesn’t want him to play and that’s all I can write about it for now because I am filling up with terror and despair.)

What I am wearing right now: (I don’t mean literally right now as I write this, but if you’re curious: a black running shirt and the long sleeve from the half marathon I ran in Brooklyn; Kendell just walked by and said “you stink!” which is true as I just finished running and haven’t showered yet.) My knees feel so much better if I wear compression. So lately I wear a loose dress (almost all of them are like this one by Karen Kane) with black running tights or capris. Do I look weird in these outfits? I don’t know. I think I’m old enough that I don’t care. I also wear my workout clothes when I work in the yard. Or do housework. Sometimes I make myself put on actual jeans or pants, but honestly I just want some compression.

The story of my shoes: I have to wear orthotics because of my bunions and capsulitis. So I’m still wearing my Dr. Martens a lot. I know, summer is coming. (I dread the coming of summer because I look so awful in shorts.) But my feet are happier in shoes with tons of support. BUT I’ve got my Chacos out of the summer-shoe storage and my feet are also happy in those. Don’t tell anyone, but because of an awesome deal at the Rack, I currently own five pair of Brooks running shoes. And, because Kendell is slightly obsessed, I have three pair of Keen hiking boots. But one has purple laces so how could I resist?

Hormone status: I’m forty-freaking-seven. I am starting to have…I don’t think they are actual hot flashes. They are hot sleeping. My circadian rhythms are a freaking Katie Perry song. Also, losing weight: that’s a myth, right? From here on out it’s just gain, gain, gain, no matter what I do???

Stuff I do: work (poetry & essay collections, book group everything, reference desk hours), laundry (it is so weird how easy it is to do laundry for just three people—Jake does his own. Sometimes the easiness gets me behind, though, because I’ve started thinking, ehhhh, there’s almost nothing in the baskets, I’ll wait until tomorrow and then I wait too long.), running, hiking, gardening (OH how I love spring gardening!), cooking (but only sometimes, see note about 3 people’s laundry; it’s the same with food and, actually, I need to be better about cooking). Every morning I drive Kaleb to school, which is kind of a pain because it means I have to haul my butt out of bed, now that he’s at a different junior high and can’t walk. But once I’m awake I actually really love it because it gives us some one-on-one time to talk or tell stories or fight over the radio station. I’ve been sewing a lot and honestly, I think it is my way of coping with my mom’s death. A little bit of scrapbooking, but not much.

One last thing: I got a new curling iron from my friends the McAlisters and it is the best thing ever. Smooth curls, not too tight or loose. Swoon!



Love this and love all of your writing. A good reminder to do my own "life right now" post. Life changes so much from year to year and it really is nice to record the mundane details. Glad your knee is allowing you to run and hike, nature really is the best healer there is.

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